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Booth, John Wilkes (10 May 1838–26 April 1865), actor and assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, actor and assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, was born near Bel Air in Harford County, Maryland, the son of Junius Brutus Booth, an actor, and Mary Ann Holmes. His grandfather, Richard Booth, named him after John Wilkes, the British reformer. As a child Booth dabbled in acting, as did some of his brothers and several neighborhood boys, both at the Booth country home, “Tudor Hall,” and at their town house in Baltimore. Booth’s father actively discouraged his children from entering the theatrical profession, but he toured extensively and died on the road when John was only fourteen....

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John Wilkes Booth. Picture featured on a wanted poster immediately following the Lincoln assassination. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-5341).

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Bresci, Gaetano (11 November 1869–22 May 1901), silk weaver and regicide, was born in Coiano, Italy, the son of Gaspero Bresci, a peasant/artisan, and Maddalena Godi. At age eleven Bresci was apprenticed to learn the art of silk weaving; he later attended a Sunday school to acquire a specialized trade. While still a youth, Gaetano participated in an anarchist group. First arrested for disturbing the peace in 1892, he was subsequently confined to the penal island of Lampedusa for more than a year for his role in organizing a strike. Now identified as a “dangerous anarchist,” Bresci had difficulty securing employment....

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Czolgosz, Leon F. (1873–29 October 1901), assassin of President William McKinley, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Paul Czolgosz, a menial laborer. His mother’s name is unknown. His parents emigrated from southern Poland to the United States just prior to Leon’s birth. As a boy Czolgosz shined shoes and sold newspapers. In 1880 the family moved to Rogers City in northern Michigan, but after five months they settled in the Polish community in Posen. Czolgosz intermittently attended public and Catholic parochial schools and developed a lifelong interest in reading, chiefly Polish magazines. In 1885 his mother died in childbirth. That year the family moved to Alpena, near Detroit, and in 1889 to Natrona, a predominantly Polish community near Pittsburgh. There Leon worked in the searing heat of a glass factory, earning seventy-five cents a day. In 1892 the family moved to Cleveland, where he found a job tending machinery at the Newberg Wire Mills. He was a steady and quiet worker who managed to save $400, which he contributed to a family fund to buy a farm. On one occasion the wire spool snapped, slashing and scarring his face....

Article

Samuel Willard Crompton

Dixwell, John (1607–18 March 1689), regicide, was born at Cotton Hall in Warwickshire, England, the son of William Dixwell and Elizabeth Brent. Little is known of his early years. In 1643, after the death of his brother, Mark Dixwell, John Dixwell received large estates in Kent to hold in trust for his brother’s children. Dixwell sided with the parliamentary cause during the English Civil War, and in 1646 he was elected to Parliament from Dover. His great claim to fame or to notoriety in English history comes from the events of early 1649; Dixwell was one of the fifty-nine men who signed the death warrant of King Charles I. Dixwell’s signature was the thirty-eighth in line on the document, and it is interesting to note that his handwriting was much more legible than that of most of his fellow judges....

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Guiteau, Charles Julius (08 September 1841–30 June 1882), assassin, was born in Freeport, Illinois, the son of Luther Wilson Guiteau, a businessman, and Jane Howe. Left motherless at the age of seven, he grew up a hyperactive, lonely child, dominated by his strict father, whose only passion was for the Perfectionist doctrine of ...

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Horn, Tom (21 November 1860–20 November 1903), scout, detective, and assassin, was born near Memphis, Scotland County, Missouri. His parents, whose names are no longer known, were farmers. He attended school irregularly during winter months, did hard farm work, enjoyed hunting, and became an excellent marksman. At about age fourteen and after an argument and violent fight with his father, he ran away to Santa Fe and may have worked as a stage driver. While in that region, he learned to speak Spanish. In 1876 or so he went to Prescott, in Arizona Territory, where he met Al Sieber, the famous civilian chief of scouts for various U.S. Army units in the San Carlos area. Little is known of Horn’s activities for the next several years. In 1882, according to Sieber, Horn worked as an army packer. He undoubtedly participated in the army pursuit of Apaches fleeing from the San Carlos Reservation. American cavalry units commanded by Tullius Cicero Tupper and William Augustus Rafferty, both captains, followed the Apaches into northwest Chihuahua, Mexico, and engaged them in April 1882 in a standoff at Sierra Enmedio, in Sonora....

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Samuel Alexander Mudd. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Mudd, Samuel Alexander (21 December 1833–10 January 1883), alleged conspirator in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, alleged conspirator in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, was born in Charles County, Maryland, the son of Henry Lowe Mudd and Sarah Ann Reeves, tobacco planters. The ancestral Mudds of Maryland were among the most prominent citizens in Charles County, which they had named and inhabited since the 1600s. Samuel grew up on the tobacco plantation of his father, “Oak Hill,” and was tutored at home for most of his early life, attending school in nearby Bryantown only briefly....

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Oswald, Lee Harvey (18 October 1939–24 November 1963), alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy, alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Robert E. Lee Oswald, a collector of insurance premiums, and Marguerite Claverie, a telephone operator and sales clerk. Because his father died two months before his birth, forcing his mother to work, Lee, together with his brother Robert and half brother John Pic spent much of his early childhood in orphanages. In 1945 Marguerite married Edwin A. Ekdahl and moved to Fort Worth, Texas. This marriage did not last, however, and Lee had a difficult time, being shuffled from place to place and from school to school. When Lee was thirteen, they moved to New York City. Because of repeated truancy violations, he was confined to a youth house for six months. A psychological evaluation found him of above average intelligence but tense, withdrawn, and shy. In early 1954 Marguerite moved back to New Orleans, where Lee attended school, participated in the local squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, and became interested in Marxism. In July 1956 they moved back to Fort Worth, and three months later Lee Harvey Oswald joined the marines....